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A glass of red wine

Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermentation of unmodified grape juice.[1] The natural chemical balance of grapes is such that they ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes or other nutrients.[2] Although other fruits like apples and berries can also be fermented, the resultant "wines" are normally named after the fruit from which they are produced (for example, apple wine or elderberry wine) and are generically known as fruit or country wine. Others, such as barley wine and rice wine (e.g. sake), are made from starch-based materials and resemble beer more than wine, while ginger wine is fortified with brandy. In these cases, the use of the term "wine" is a reference to the higher alcohol content, rather than production process.[3] The commercial use of the English word "wine" (and its equivalent in other languages) is protected by law in many jurisdictions.[4] Wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast which consume the sugars found in the grapes and convert them into alcohol. Various varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts are used depending on the types of wine produced.[5]

Wine has a long history dating back about 8,000 years and is thought to have originated in present day Georgia or Iran.[6][7] Wine is thought to have appeared in Europe about 6,500 years ago in Greece[8] and was very common in classical Greece and Rome. Wine has also played an important role in religion since ancient times. The Greek God Dionysos and the Roman God Bacchus represented wine. Wine has also played an important role in ceremonies in the Christian religion such as mass.

The word "wine" derives from the Proto-Germanic *winam, an early borrowing from the Latin vinum, "wine" or "(grape) vine", itself derived from the Proto-Indo-European stem *win-o- (cf. Ancient Greek Template:Polytonic oînos).[9] Similar words for wine or grapes are found in the Semitic languages (cf. Arabic ﻭﻳﻦ wayn) and in Georgian (ğvino), and the term is considered an ancient wanderwort.[10]



Main article: History of Wine

Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest wine production came from sites in Georgia and Iran, dating from 6000 to 5000 BC.[11][12] The archaeological evidence becomes clearer, and points to domestication of grapevine, in Early Bronze Age sites of the Near East, Sumer and Egypt from around the third millennium BC.[13]

The very oldest known evidence suggesting wine production in Europe and second oldest in the world comes from archaeological sites in Greece and is dated to 6,500 years ago.[14][15][16] The same archaeological sites in Greece also contain remnants of the world’s earliest evidence of crushed grapes.[17] In fact several Greek sources as well as Pliny the Elder describe how the ancient Greeks used partly dehydrated gypsum before fermentation and some type of lime after fermentation to reduce acidity. The Greek writer Theophrastus is actually the oldest known source to describe this aspect of Greek wine making. [18] [19]

In Egypt, wine became a part of recorded history, playing an important role in ancient ceremonial life. Wine was possibly introduced into Egypt by the Ancient Greeks.[20] Traces of wine were also found in China, dating from the second and first millennium BC[21].

Wine was common in classical Greece and Rome.[22] The Ancient Greeks introduced vines such as Vitis vinifera[23] and made wine in their numerous colonies in Italy,[24] Sicily,[25] southern France,[26] and Spain.[23] Dionysus was the Greek god of wine and revelry, and wine was frequently referred to in the works of Homer and Aesop. Many of the major wine producing regions of Western Europe today were established by the Romans.[27] Wine making technology improved considerably during the time of the Roman Empire. Many grape varieties and cultivation techniques were known. Barrels were developed for storing and shipping wine.[27]

Since Roman times, wine (potentially mixed with herbs and minerals) was assumed to serve medicinal purposes as well. During Roman times it was not uncommon to dissolve pearls in wine for better health. Cleopatra created her own legend by promising Marc Anthony she would "drink the value of a province" in one cup of wine, after which she drank an expensive pearl with a cup of wine. [19]. Another medieval application was the use of snake-stones (banded Agate resembling the figural rings on a snake) dissolved in wine against snake bites, which shows an early understanding of the effects of alcohol on the central nerve system in such situations [19]

In medieval Europe, the Christian Church was a staunch supporter of wine which was necessary for the celebration of the Catholic Mass. In places such as Germany, beer was banned and considered pagan and barbaric while wine consumption was viewed as civilized and a sign of conversion.[28] Wine was also forbidden in the Islamic civilization, but after Geber and other Muslim chemists pioneered the distillation of wine, it was used for other purposes, including cosmetic and medical uses.[29] In fact the 10th century Persian philosopher and scientist Al Biruni described a number of recipes where herbs, minerals and even gemstones are mixed with wine for medicinal purposes. So much wine was revered and its effect feared that elaborate theories were developed which gemstone-cups would best counteract its negative side effects. [19]

Grape varieties

Main article: List of grape varieties
Wine grapes on a vine

Wine is usually made from one or more varieties of the European species, Vitis vinifera. When one of these varieties, such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, or Merlot, for example, is used as the predominant grape (usually defined by law as a minimum of 75 or 85%) the result is a varietal, as opposed to a blended wine. Blended wines are in no way inferior to varietal wines; some of the world's most valued and expensive wines from the Bordeaux, Rioja or Tuscany regions are a blend of several grape varieties of the same vintage.

Wine can also be made from other species or from hybrids, created by the genetic crossing of two species. Vitis labrusca, Vitis aestivalis, Vitis rupestris, Vitis rotundifolia and Vitis riparia are native North American grapes, usually grown for eating in fruit form or made into grape juice, jam, or jelly, but sometimes made into wine, eg. Concord wine (Vitis labrusca species).

Hybrids are not to be confused with the practice of grafting. Most of the world's vineyards are planted with European vinifera vines that have been grafted onto North American species rootstock. This is common practice because North American grape species are resistant to phylloxera, a root louse that eventually kills the vine. In the late 19th century, Europe's vineyards were devastated by the bug, leading to massive vine deaths and eventual replanting. Grafting is done in every wine-producing country of the world except for Chile and Argentina, which have yet to be exposed to the insect.[30]

The variety of grape(s), aspect (direction of slope), elevation, and topography of the vineyard, type and chemistry of soil, the climate and seasonal conditions under which grapes are grown, and the local yeast cultures all together form the concept of "terroir." The range of possibilities lead to great variety among wine products, which is extended by the fermentation, finishing, and aging processes. Many small producers use growing and production methods that preserve or accentuate the aroma and taste influences of their unique terroir.[31]

However, flavor differences are not desirable for producers of mass-market table wine or other cheaper wines, where consistency is more important. Producers will try to minimize differences in sources of grapes by using wine making technology such as micro-oxygenation, tannin filtration, cross-flow filtration, thin film evaporation, and spinning cone.[32]


A glass of white wine
Close-up of a glass of white wine

Regulations govern the classification and sale of wine in various regions of the world. France has an appellation system which ranges from Vin de Table (or "table wine"), through Vin de Pays and Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) to Appellation d'Origine Vin De Qualité Supérieure (AOVDQS) [33] and which is based on the concept of terroir [34] (or region of origin) and wine quality. Germany developed a similar system in 2002[35], though this has not yet developed the authority of the French system.[36] Spain[37] and Italy also have a classification which is based on a dual system of region of origin and quality of product.[38] New World wine, that is wines from outside of the traditional wine growing regions of Europe, tend to be classified by grape rather than by quality or region of origin, though there have been subjective attempts to classify by quality[39], most successfully by Langton's.[40]

Wines are usually named either by their grape variety or by their place of production. Generally speaking, European wines are named both after the place of production (e.g. Bordeaux, Rioja, Chianti, Cotnari) and the grapes used (e.g. Pinot, Chardonnay, Merlot). Wines from everywhere except Europe are generally named for the grape variety. More and more, however, market recognition of particular regions and wineries is leading to their increased prominence on non-European wine labels. Examples of recognized locales include: Napa Valley, Barossa Valley, Willamette Valley, Cafayate, Marlborough, Walla Walla, etc.

Some blended wine names are marketing terms, and the use of these names is governed by trademark or copyright law, rather than a specific wine law or a patent on the actual varietal blend or process used to achieve it. For example, Meritage (pronounced to rhyme with "heritage") is generally a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and may also include Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec, while the dôle is made from the Pinot Noir and Gamay grapes. Use of the term Meritage is protected by licensing agreements by The Meritage Association.


The taste of a wine depends not only on the grape species and varietal blend, but can also depend on the ground and climate (known as terroir) where it is cultivated. Historically, wines have been known by names reflecting their origin, and sometimes style: Bordeaux, Rioja, Mosel and Chianti are all legally defined names, reflecting the traditional wines produced in the named region. These naming conventions or "appellations" (as they are known in France) dictate not only where the grapes in a wine were grown, but also which grapes went into the wine and how they were vinified. The appellation system is strongest in the European Union, but a related system, the American Viticultural Area, restricts the use of certain regional labels in America, such as Napa Valley, Santa Barbara and Willamette Valley. The AVA designations do not restrict the type of grape used.[41]

In most of the world, wine labeled Champagne must be made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France and fermented using a certain method, based on the international trademark agreements included in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. However, in the United States, a legal definition called semi-generic has enabled U.S. winemakers to use certain generic terms (Champagne, Hock, Sherry, etc.) if there appears next to the term the actual appellation of origin.[42]

More recently wine regions in countries with less stringent location protection laws such as the United States and Australia have joined with well-known European wine producing regions to sign the Napa Declaration to Protect Wine Place and Origin, commonly known as the Napa Declaration on Place. This is a "declaration of joint principles stating the importance of location to wine and the need to protect place names."[43]. The Declaration was signed in July 2005 by four United States winegrowing regions and three European Union winegrowing regions.

The signatory regions from the US were:

The signatory regions from the EU were:

The list of signatories to the agreement expanded in March 2007 when Sonoma County, Paso Robles, Chianti Classico, Tokay, Victoria, Australia and Western Australia signed the Declaration at a ceremony in Washington, DC.

Red or white wine

The colour of wine is not determined by the juice of the grape, which is almost always clear, but rather by the presence or absence of the grape skin during fermentation.[44] Grapes with coloured juice, for example alicante bouchet, are known as teinturier. Red wine is made from red (or black) grapes, but its red colour is bestowed by a process called maceration, whereby the skin is left in contact with the juice during fermentation. White wine can be made from any colour of grape as the skin is separated from the juice during fermentation.

Rosé wine

Main article: Rosé

A blush wine can be made by removing the skins from the juice part way through fermentation, by blending reds and whites, or by concentrating liquid removed during fermentation.

Table wine

Main article: Table wine

Table wines may have an alcohol content that is no higher than 14% in the U.S.. In Europe, light wine must be within 8.5% and 14% alcohol by volume. As such, unless a wine has more than 14% alcohol, or it has bubbles, it is a table wine or a light wine. Table wines are usually classified as "white," "red," or "rosé," depending on their colour. In Europe 'vins de table' (in French), 'vino da tavola' (in Italian), 'Tafelwein' (in German) or 'vino de mesa' (in Spanish), which translate to 'table wine' in English, are cheaper wines that often on the label do not include the information on the grape variety used or the region of origin.

Sparkling wines

Main article: Sparkling wine

Sparkling wines such as champagne, contain carbon dioxide which is produced naturally from fermentation or force-injected later. To have this effect, the wine is fermented twice, once in an open container to allow the carbon dioxide to escape into the air, and a second time in a sealed container, where the gas is caught and remains in the wine.[45] Sparkling wines that gain their carbonation from the traditional method of bottle fermentation are called 'Bottle Fermented', 'Méthode Traditionelle', or 'Méthode Champenoise'. The latter designation is considered wrong by those who hold that Champagne refers to the origin as well as the method of production. Other international denominations of sparkling wine include Sekt or Schaumwein (Germany), Cava (Spain), and Spumante (Italy). 'Semi Sparkling wines' are Sparkling Wines that contain less than 2.5 atmospheres of carbon dioxide at sea level and 20 degrees C. Some countries such as the UK impose a higher tax on fully sparkling wines. Examples of Semi-Sparkling wines are Frizzante Italy, Vino de Aguja Spain, Petillant France.

Dessert wine

Main article: Dessert wine

Dessert wines range from slightly sweet (with less than 50 g/L of sugar) to incredibly sweet wines (with over 400 g/L of sugar). Late Harvest Wines such as Spätlese are made from grapes harvested well after they have reached maximum ripeness. Dried grape wines, such as Recioto and Vin Santo from Italy as well as Vinsanto from Santorini Greece , are made from grapes that have been partially raisined after harvesting. Botrytized wines are made from grapes infected by the mold Botrytis cinerea or noble rot. These include Sauternes from Bordeaux, Numerous wines from Loire such as Bonnezeaux and Quarts de Chaume, Tokaji Aszú from Hungary and Tokaj from Slovakia, and Beerenauslese from Germany and Austria. Eiswein is made from grapes that are harvested while they are frozen.

Fortified wine

Main article: Fortified wine

Fortified wines are often sweeter, and generally more alcoholic wines that have had their fermentation process stopped by the addition of a spirit, such as brandy, or have had additional spirit added after fermentation.[46] Examples include Port, Madeira and Banyuls.

Cooking wine

Cooking wine or Cooking sherry refers to inexpensive grape wine or rice wine (in Chinese and other East Asian cuisine). It is intended for use as an ingredient in food rather than as a beverage. Cooking wine typically available in North America is treated with salt as a preservative and food colouring. [47] When a wine bottle is opened and the wine is exposed to oxygen, a fermentative process will transform the alcohol into acetic acid resulting in wine vinegar. The salt in cooking wine inhibits the growth of the acetic acid producing microorganisms. This preservation is important because a bottle of cooking wine may be opened and used occasionally over a long period of time.

Cooking wines are convenient for cooks who use wine as an ingredient for cooking only rarely. However, they are not widely used by professional chefs, as they believe the added preservative significantly lowers the quality of the wine and resultantly the food made with that wine. Most professional chefs prefer to use inexpensive but drinkable wine for cooking, and this recommendation is given in many professional cooking textbooks as well as general cookbooks. Many chefs believe there is no excuse for using a low quality cooking wine for cooking when there are quality drinkable wines available at very low prices.

Cooking wine is considered a wine of such poor quality, that it is unpalatable by itself and intended for use only in cooking. (There is a school of thought that advises against cooking with any wine one would find unacceptable to drink[48]; however, a recent study has found that inexpensive wine works as well as expensive wine in cooking.) [49]


Main article: Vintage

A vintage wine is one made from grapes that were all, or primarily, grown in a single specified year, and are accordingly dated as such. In the United States for a wine to be vintage dated (and labeled with a country of origin or AVA, such as "Napa Valley" or "New Zealand") it must contain at least 95% of its volume from wines harvested in that year.[50] If a wine is not labeled with a country of origin or AVA, such as "Napa County", it must contain at least 85% of its volume from wines harvested in that year.[50] Many wines, particularly good quality red table wines, can improve in flavor with age if properly stored.[51] Consequently, it is not uncommon for wine enthusiasts and traders to save bottles of an especially good vintage wine for future consumption. Most countries allow a vintage wine to include a portion of wine that is not from the labeled vintage. Recent research suggests vintage year may not be as significant to wine quality as currently thought.[52]

Non-vintage wines, however, can be blended from a number of vintages for consistency, a process which allows wine makers to keep a reliable market image and also maintain sales even in bad vintage years.[citation needed]

Vintage wines are generally bottled in a single batch so that each and every bottle will have a similar taste. Climatic factors can have a dramatic impact on the character of a wine to the extent that different vintages from the same vineyard can vary dramatically in flavor and quality[53]. Thus, vintage wines are produced to be individually characteristic of the vintage and to serve as the flagship wines of the producer. Superior vintages, from reputable producers and regions, will often fetch much higher prices than their average vintages. Some vintage wines are only made in better-than-average years.


Main article: Wine tasting
Judging colour is the first step in tasting a wine

Wines may be classified by their primary impression on the drinker's palate. They are made up of chemical compounds which are similar or identical to those in fruits, vegetables, and spices. The sweetness of wine is determined by the amount of residual sugar in the wine after fermentation, relative to the acidity present in the wine. Dry wine, for example, has only a small amount of residual sugar. However, a technically dry wine might taste sweet when it is not. For example, fennel might taste sweet, but does not contain much sugar.

Specific flavors may also be sensed, due to the highly complex mix of organic molecules such as esters and terpenes that grape juice and wine can contain. Tasters will also distinguish between flavors characteristic of a specific grape (e.g., Cabernet Sauvignon and blackcurrant) and flavors that are imparted by other factors in wine making, either intentional or not. The most typical intentional flavor elements in wine are those that are imparted by aging in oak casks, and virtually every element of chocolate, vanilla, or coffee is actually a factor of oak and not the native grape[54].

Banana flavors (isoamyl acetate) are the product of yeast metabolism, as are spoilage aromas such as sweaty, barnyard, band-aid (4-ethylphenol and 4-ethylguaiacol),[55] and rotten egg (hydrogen sulfide).[56] Some varietals can also have mineral flavor, due to the fact that some salts are soluble in water (as limestone), and thus absorbed by the vine.

Wine aroma is the result of the interaction between components of the grapes and those produced during winemaking process, fermentation and aging.[57] Being served at room temperature increases the vaporization of aroma compounds, making the wine more aromatic. For some red wines that are already highly aromatic, like Chinon and Beaujolais, the volatility of the wine makes it better served chilled.[58]


Château Margaux, a first growth from the Bordeaux region of France, is highly collectible.

At the highest end, rare, super-premium wines are amongst the most expensive of all food, and outstanding vintages from the best vineyards may sell for thousands of dollars per bottle. Such wines are considered by some as Veblen goods. The most common wines purchased for investment include Bordeaux, cult wines and Port. The reasons for these choices over thousands of other products and regions are:

  1. They have a proven track record of holding well over time.
  2. Their plateau drinking window (the period for maturity and approachability) is of many, many years, when the taster will be able to enjoy the wine at its best.
  3. There is a record of quality and consensus amongst experts as to the uniqueness of the wines.

Investment in fine wine has attracted a number of fraudsters who play on fine wine's exclusive image and their clients' ignorance of this sector of the wine market.[59] Wine fraud scams often work by charging excessively high prices for the wine, while representing that it is a sound investment unaffected by economic cycles. Like any investment, proper research is essential before investing. False labeling is another dishonest practice commonly used.


Wine production by country 2005[60]
Rank Country
(with link to wine article)
1 Template:Flagicon France 5,329,449
2 Template:Flagicon Italy 5,056,648
3 Template:Flagicon Spain 3,934,140
4 Template:Flagicon United States of America 2,232,000
5 Template:Flagicon Argentina 1,564,000
6 Template:Flagicon China 1,300,000
7 Template:Flagicon Australia 1,274,000
8 Template:Flagicon South Africa 1,157,895
9 Template:Flagicon Germany 1,014,700
10 Template:Flagicon Chile 788,551
11 Template:Flagicon Portugal 576,500
12 Template:Flagicon Romania 575,000
Main article: List of wine producing countries

The first ten grape producing countries in the world (2005) are:

Country q x 1,000
Italy 86,200 (13.14%)
France 67,785 (10.33%)
USA 63,275 (9.64%)
Spain 59,258 (9.03%)
China 56,000 (8.53%)
Turkey 36,500 (5.56%)
Argentina 28,297 (4.31%)
Iran 28,000 (4.27%)
Chile 22,500 (3.43%)
Australia 20,265 (3.09%)

TOTAL 656,134

Wine grapes grow almost exclusively between thirty and fifty degrees north or south of the equator. The world's most southerly vineyards are in the Central Otago region of New Zealand's South Island near the 45th parallel,[61] and the most northerly is in Flen, Sweden, just above the 59th parallel.[62]

Evolution of wine production in the European Union in 2005 and 2006

Forecasts 2006 (millions of hectolitres)

  1.  Italy : 52036
  2.  France : 51700
  3.  Spain : 39301
  4.  Germany : 8995
  5.  Portugal : 7390
  6.  Greece : 3908

Forecasts 2005 (millions of hectolitres)

  1.  France : 52105
  2.  Italy : 50562
  3.  Spain : 34789
  4.  Germany : 9256
  5.  Portugal : 7266
  6.  Greece : 3997

Exporting countries

The 15 largest exporting nations (2005 figures) – Italy, France, Spain, Australia, Chile, the United States of America, Germany, South Africa, Portugal, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia and Argentina. California produces about 90% of the wine in the United States. In 2000, Great Britain imported more wine from Australia than from France for the first time in history.

First ten wine exporting countries in 2005

Country Thousands of Hectolitres
Italy 15,100
Spain 14,439
France 13,900
Australia 7,019
Chile 4,209
USA 3,482
Germany 2,970
South Africa 2,818
Portugal 2,800
Moldova 2,425

TOTAL 78,729

The leaders in export volume by market share in 2003 were:


Wine is a popular and important beverage that accompanies and enhances a wide range of European and Mediterranean-style cuisines, from the simple and traditional to the most sophisticated and complex. Wine is important in cuisine not just for its value as a beverage, but as a flavor agent (primarily in stocks and braising) in which its acidity lends balance to rich savory or sweet dishes. Red, white and sparkling wines are the most popular, and are also known as light wines, because they only contain approximately 10-14% alcohol. (Alcohol percentages are usually by volume.) The apéritif and dessert wines contain 14-20% alcohol, and are fortified to make them richer and sweeter than the light wines.

The labels on certain bottles of wine suggest that they need to be set aside for an hour before drinking to breathe, while other wines are recommended to be drunk as soon as they are opened. Decanting is a controversial subject in wine. In addition to aeration, decanting removes some of the bitter sediments from the bottle. Sediment is more common in older bottles but younger wines benefit more from the aeration.[63]

During aeration, the exposure of younger wines to air often "relaxes" the flavors and makes them taste smoother and better integrated in aroma, texture, and flavor. Wines that are older generally fade (lose their character and flavor intensity) with extended aeration.[citation needed] Breathing, however, does not benefit all wines, and should not therefore be taken to the extreme. In general, wine should be tasted as soon as it is opened to determine how long it may be aerated, if at all.

Religious uses

Template:Seealso The use of wine in religious ceremonies is common to many cultures and regions. Libations often included wine, and the religious mysteries of Dionysus involved wine as a sacrament of entheogen, a fact denounced by Justin Martyr as a diabolical mockery of Christ:

when they tell that Bacchus, son of Jupiter, was begotten by intercourse with Semele, and that he was the discoverer of the vine; and when they relate, that being torn in pieces, and having died, he rose again, and ascended to heaven; and when they introduce wine into his mysteries, do I not perceive that the devil has imitated the prophecy announced by the patriarch Jacob, and recorded by Moses? Dialogue with Trpypho ch. 64

Wine plays an integral part of Jewish laws and traditions. The Kiddush, a blessing said before starting the first and second Shabbat or festival meals and Havdallah, a blessing said after the Shabbat or festival are required to be said over wine if available. On Pesach (Passover) during the Seder, it is also required to drink four cups of wine.[64] In the Tabernacle and in the Temple in Jerusalem, the libation of wine was part of the sacrificial service.[citation needed] A blessing over wine said before indulging in the drink is: "Baruch atah Adonai elohaynu melech ha-olam, boray p’ree hagafen" (Praised be the Eternal, Ruler of the universe, who makes the fruit of the vine).

In Christian services wine is used in a sacred ritual called Communion or the Eucharist, which originates in Gospel accounts of the Last Supper when Jesus blesses the bread and wine and commands his followers to "do this in remembrance of me." Wine was used in the rite by all Protestant groups until an alternative arose in 1869 when Methodist minister-turned-dentist Thomas Bramwell Welch applied new pasteurization techniques to stop the natural fermentation process of grape juice.[citation needed] Some Christians who were part of the growing temperance movement pressed for a switch from wine to grape juice, and there remains an ongoing debate between some American Protestant denominations as to whether wine can or should be used in moderation for the Eucharist or for merriment. Outside the United States, most Protestant groups use wine.[citation needed] The use of wine is forbidden under Islam. Iran used to have a thriving wine industry that disappeared after the Islamic revolution in 1979.[65]

Health effects

Template:Nutritionalvalue Template:Seealso The health effects of wine (and alcohol in general) are the subject of considerable ongoing study.[66] In the USA, a boom in red wine consumption was initiated in the 1990s by '60 Minutes', and other news reports on the French paradox. The French paradox refers to the lower incidence of coronary heart disease in France than in the USA despite high levels of saturated fat in the traditional French diet. Epidemiologists suspect that this difference is attributed to the high consumption of wines by the French, however this suspicion is based on limited scientific evidence.

Population studies have observed a J curve association between wine consumption and the risk of heart disease.[67] This means that abstainers and heavy drinkers have an elevated risk, whilst moderate drinkers have a lower risk.[68] Population studies have also found that moderate consumption of other alcoholic beverages may be cardioprotective, though the association is considerably stronger for wine. These studies have found a protective effect from both red wine as well as white wine, though evidence from laboratory studies suggests that red wine may possess superior health benefits including prevention of cancer due to the fact red wine contains more polyphenols than white wine due to the production process.[69]

A chemical called resveratrol is thought to be at least partly responsible for red wines' health benefits, as it has been shown to exert a range of both cardioprotective as well as chemoprotective mechanisms in animal studies.[70] Resveratrol is produced naturally by grape skins in response to fungal infection, which includes exposure to yeast during fermentation. As white wine has minimal contact with grape skins during this process, it generally contains lower levels of resveratrol.[71] Other beneficial compounds in wine include other polyphenols, antioxidants, and flavonoids.[72]

Red wines from South-West France and Sardinia Italy have been found to have the highest levels of procyanidins - the compounds in grape seeds responsible for making red wine good for the heart. Wines from south-west France and Sardinia have between two and four times as much procyanidins as other red wines. Procyanidins suppress the synthesis of a peptide called endothelin-1 that constricts blood vessels.[73]

A 2007 study found that both red and white wines are effective anti-bacterial agents against strains of Streptococcus.[74] Interestingly, wine has traditionally been used to treat wounds in some parts of the world.[75]

Whilst evidence from both laboratory studies as well as epidemiology (observational studies) suggests wines' cardioprotective effect, no evidence from controlled experiments - of which long-term studies are still ongoing - currently exists to determine the specific effect of wine or other alcohol on the risk of developing heart disease or stroke. Moreover, excessive consumption of alcohol including wine can cause some diseases including cirrhosis of the liver and alcoholism.[76] Also the American Heart Association cautions people "not to start drinking ... if they do not already drink alcohol. Consult your doctor on the benefits and risks of consuming alcohol in moderation".[77]

Adverse Reactions to Wine

Some people report negative reactions to various types of wine, which can include severe headaches, nausea, and even anaphylactic reactions. Although these symptoms are unlikely to be a result of allergy, they could be caused by certain compounds in wine.[78]


Sulphites are present in all wines and are formed as a natural product of the fermentation process. Additionally, many wine producers add sulphur dioxide in order to help preserve the wine. The level of added sulphites varies, and some wines have been marketed with low sulphite content. [79]

Sulphites in wine are not a problem for most people, although some people, particularly people with asthma, can experience adverse reactions to them. Sulphur Dioxide is also added to many other foods though, for example in dried apricots and Orange Juice.


Histamine is a chemical released by the body in the true allergic response, and it is also found in wine (red wine more so than white). It is thought by some people that histamine is a possible cause of these adverse reactions, although there is no clear evidence of this. [80]

Packaging & Storage

Assorted wine corks

Template:Seealso Most wines are sold in glass bottles and are sealed using a cork. Recently a growing number of wine producers have begun sealing their product with alternative closures such as screwcaps or synthetic plastic "corks". Some wines are packaged in heavy plastic bags, which are typically packaged further within cardboard boxes, similar to the packaging of breakfast cereal. One advantage of boxed-wine is that it can stay fresh for up to a month after opening, while bottled wine will start to oxidize immediately after opening. The contents of boxed wine are typically accessed via a tap on the side of the box. In addition to being less expensive, alternative closures prevent cork taint, although alternative closures can also cause other types of wine spoilage.

Wine cellars offer the opportunity to protect alcoholic beverages from potentially harmful external influences, providing darkness and a constant temperature. Wine is a natural, perishable food product. Left exposed to heat, light, vibration or fluctuations in temperature and humidity, all types of wine, including red, white, sparkling, and fortified, can spoil. When properly stored, wines not only maintain their quality but many actually improve in aroma, flavor, and complexity as they mature.


  • Cooper: Someone who makes wooden barrels, casks, and other similar wooden objects.
  • Négociant: A wine merchant who assembles the produce of smaller growers and winemakers, and sells them under his own name. Sometimes, this term is simply a synonym for wine merchant.
  • Vintner: A wine merchant or producer.
  • Sommelier: A person in a restaurant who specializes in wine, and is usually in charge of assembling the wine list, staff education and making wine suggestions to customers
  • Winemaker: A person who makes wine. May or may not be formally trained.
  • Garagista: One who makes wine in a garage (or basement, or home, etc.) An amateur wine maker. Also used in a derogatory way, when speaking of small scale operations of recent inception, or without pedigree(ie. small scale winemakers of Bordeaux).
  • Oenologist: Wine scientist or wine chemist, student of oenology. A winemaker may be trained as oenologist, but often instead uses a consultant oenologist
  • Viticulturist: A person who specializes in the science of the grapevines themselves. Can also be someone who manages a vineyard (decides how to prune, how much to irrigate, how to deal with pests, etc.)

Film and television

  • A Good Year, 2006. Ridley Scott directs Russell Crowe in an adaptation of Peter Mayle's novel.
  • Mondovino, USA/France 2004: A documentary film directed by American film maker, Jonathan Nossiter, explaining the impact of globalization on the various wine-producing regions.
  • Sideways, 2004: A comedy/drama film, directed by Alexander Payne, with the tagline: "In search of wine. In search of women. In search of themselves." Wine, particularly Pinot Noir, plays a central role.
  • A Walk in the Clouds 1995, is a love story set in a traditional vineyard showcasing different moments in the production of wine.
  • French Kiss, 1995. Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline act in this romantic comedy. Kline's character wants to have his own vineyard since he comes from a family of winemakers. The character has even made his own aroma sampling kit.
  • Falcon Crest, USA 1981-1990: A CBS primetime soap opera about the fictional Falcon Crest winery and the family who owned it, set in the fictional Tuscany Valley of California. The series was very popular and a wine named Falcon Crest even went on the market.
  • Crush, USA 2007:Produced & Directed by Bret Lyman. A documentary short that explores the 2006 grape harvest and crush in California's wine country. Features Winemaker Richard Bruno.



Further reading

  • Batmanglij, Najmieh (2006). From Persia to Napa: Wine at the Persian Table. Washington, DC: Mage Publishers. ISBN 1-933823-00-3. 
  • Edell, M.D., Dean (1999). Eat, Drink and be Merry: America’s Doctor Tells You Why the Health Experts are Wrong. NY: HarperCollins. pp. 191-192. 
  • Stengel, Kilien (2007). Quiz of wine. Dunod. 
  • Foulkes, Christopher (2001). Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine. Larousse. ISBN 2-03-585013-4. 
  • Johnson, Hugh (2003). Hugh Johnson's Wine Companion (5th edition ed.). Mitchell Beazley. "The Encyclopaedia of Wines, Vineyards and Winemakers" 
  • McCarthy, Ed; Mary Ewing-Mulligan, Piero Antinori (2006). Wine for Dummies. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-470-04579-5. 
  • Stengel, Kilien (2007). Oenologie crus des vins. Villette. ISBN 978-2-86547-080-8. 
  • MacNeil, Karen (2001). The Wine Bible. Workman. ISBN 1-56305-434-5. 
  • Nicholson, Paul T; I. Shaw (2000). Ancient Egyptian materials and technology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-45257-0. "Grapes and wine in ancient Egypt; includes critique of chemical evidence for wine residues." 
  • Pigott, Stuart. A Grape by Grape Visual Guide to the Contemporary Wine World. Mitchell Beazley. 
  • Robinson, Jancis (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd edition ed.). Oxford: OUP. ISBN 0-19-860990-6. 
  • Taber, George M. (2005). Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting the Revolutionized Wine. NY: Scribner. 
  • Zraly, Kevin (2006). Windows on the World Complete Wine Course. Sterling. ISBN 1-4027-3928-1. 
  • Zohary, Daniel; Maria Hopf (2000). Domestication of plants in the Old World. Oxford: OUP. ISBN 0-19-850356-3. "Authoritative source on evolution and domestication of the grapevine." 

See also


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